Friday, November 30, 2007

The Wingnut is at it Again

Check out this little beauty from Pat Robertson. I'd think Christ might be more pleased if they expended this effort ministering to the poor and the homeless and the imprisoned.

Making Way

When faced with overwhelming power, the powerless learn to adapt.

The footage is from a marketplace in Bangkok.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"I'm Not There"

I can't say I understand it completely. I can't say that it is going to achieve any sort of commercial success. I can't even say that critics love it. Most do, but one of my favorite critics (Anthony Lane of the New Yorker) and one of my least favorite critics (Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle) both disliked it. What I CAN say about "I'm Not There," Todd Haynes's new film "based on the music and many lives of Bob Dylan" is that not once during its two-hour, 15-minute running time did I ever want to look away from the screen. It is the most artful film I have seen in many, many years.

Be warned -- if you are looking for a faithful biography of Bob Dylan, this is not the movie for you. Many reviews I have read seem to feel the film presents different stages of Dylan's life, represented by the six different actors (including the luminous Cate Blanchett) who play Dylan. The truth is, these actors represent different aspects of Dylan's character as much as they represent stages of his life. He is seen in youth as an African-American boy (inhabited by the prodigiously precocious Marcus Carl Franklin) named Woody. (None of the Dylan characters in the film are actually named "Bob Dylan.") I'm not familiar with the details of Dylan's life as a child, but I'm pretty sure it didn't involve riding the rails as a pre-adolescent with a guitar whose case read "this machine kills fascists." Yet, these sequences still have a powerful ring of truth. They set-up the young Dylan as someone obsessed with his mission in life, his dreams and his goals, while grounding these aspirations with the sense of otherness Dylan must have felt, both as an artist and as a Jew in mid-century Minnesota.

The film jumps back and forth through time, skimming in and out of dreamy fantasies and hard-edged reality. We see Dylan the rebel, Dylan the dreamer, Dylan the outlaw, Dylan the petulant artist, Dylan the provocateur and Dylan the sage. And still we feel we have only scratched the first level or two of veneer.

Look for "I'm Not There" to score several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing and perhaps even Best Screenplay. It will deserve them all. Every frame is filled with art. It's not a movie for everyone, but "I'm Not There" is easily the most impressive film achievement of the year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

How to Cover

With the resignation of Florida's Bob Allen, following his conviction on charges of soliciting sex for money in a public restroom, I have a suggestion for other closeted Republican lawmakers. (This should increase the blog readership, as there seems to be NO END of those!) Bob Allen, Larry Craig, Mark Foley, et al. all had horrendous records in terms of voting on gay rights issues. Their overcompensation didn't seem to keep the truth from getting out. In fact, given the events of the past year, I think the wise course of action for a closeted Republican would be to come out in favor of gay rights issues. Co-sponsor ENDA. Be grand marshall of the West Hollywood pride parade. Sponsor a constitutional amendment establishing same-sex marriage. That'll throw 'em off the scent.

The Real Straight Talk Express... being driven by Joe Biden. Read this interview with the man. He's saying stuff that seems smart and solid and rational. Unfortunately, it reads like someone who believes he can't win the nomination, and therefore feels like he can really speak his mind. Look at some his responses in the most recent debate. He was among the most relaxed candidates on the stage, willing to joke in an off-the-cuff, non-scripted, non-focus group tested way.

This is a man who, in my opinion, has the best qualifications to lead this country -- but has almost no chance at getting the opportunity to do so. But I can hope. And donate. (Which I did.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why the Internet was Invented, part 2

To discover secrets we never knew existed. Click here.

Barack's Inner Dick

In his Sunday op-ed piece, Thomas Friedman suggests an approach to the Iran problem that marries the "let's talk" approach of Barack Obama with the "let's rumble" approach of Dick Cheney.

Money quote: "But Mr. Obama’s stress on engaging Iran, while a useful antidote to the Bush boycott policy, is not sufficient. Mr. Obama evinces little feel for generating the leverage you’d need to make such diplomacy work. When negotiating with murderous regimes like Iran’s or Syria’s, you want Tony Soprano by your side, not Big Bird. Mr. Obama’s gift for outreach would be so much more effective with a Dick Cheney standing over his right shoulder, quietly pounding a baseball bat into his palm."

Friday, November 16, 2007

Yo Ho, Yo Ho...

...a pirate's death for me!

Friedman Making Sense. Again.

I missed this column of 11/14 from Thomas Friedman. Don't you miss it. Money quote:

"REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: “My Democratic opponent, true to form, wants to raise your taxes. Yes, now he wants to raise your taxes at the gasoline pump by $1 a gallon. Another tax-and-spend liberal who wants to get into your pocket.”

DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: “Yes, my opponent is right. I do favor a gasoline tax phased in over 12 months. But let’s get one thing straight: My opponent and I are both for a tax. I just prefer that my taxes go to the U.S. Treasury, and he’s ready to see his go to the Russian, Venezuelan, Saudi and Iranian treasuries. His tax finances people who hate us. Mine would offset some of our payroll taxes, pay down our deficit, strengthen our dollar, stimulate energy efficiency and shore up Social Security. It’s called win-win-win-win-win for America. My opponent’s strategy is sit back, let the market work and watch America lose-lose-lose-lose-lose.”

If you can’t win that debate, you don’t belong in politics."

No Need to Yell "Fore!" these pants...

...will do a much more effective job of announcing your presence to the foursome in front of you.

More options at Loudmouth Golf.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bob Allen is Convicted, Sentenced

Florida state representative Bob Allen (whose men's room troubles preceded Larry Craig's by several months, and documented by this blog here) was convicted last week and today was sentenced to six months probation and a $250 fine, plus $245 restitution for police costs. One of the conditions of his sentencing included a provision that he never enter the park where the offense took place. So he'll have to scratch that tea room off his list. But there must be non-stops from Miami to Minneapolis -- the men's room is hopping there.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Say It, Frank

A blistering opinion piece from Frank Rich in today's New York Times.

Money quote: "Americans know that the ideals that once set our nation apart from the world have been vandalized, and no matter which party they belong to, they do not see a restoration anytime soon."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A New Low Round

Today, after two weeks of an intense work project, I was able to get back out on the golf course. I went with a fresh attitude: I wasn't going to get upset at bad shots. After all, golf isn't my living, and stressing out over a poor swing wasn't going to make the next one any better.

So I stepped onto the first tee at the Marriott Desert Springs Valley course with no expectations. (And, as it turned out, no warm-up. My original tee time was 1:30, and I'd never be able to complete the round before dark, so I got to the course early and asked if I and my playing partner could get out any earlier. "Only spot I have for two is going out right now." So now was when we went.")

On the first hole, I hit an acceptable tee shot, a weak fade, but in the fairway. After a pulled second shot, I hit a chip to four feet and sank the putt for an opening par.

Hole number two I striped my drive straight down the middle, but pulled my approach again, chipped not quite as well and two-putted for a bogey.

Number three was a par five. A decent drive and second shot, but my approach went right, and I chipped and two-putted for another bogey.

Bogey on number four. My drive was good, but didn't quite carry over some rough. My second shot came up just short, but I stubbed my chip. Chipped again and one-putted.

On number five I got back on the par train with a solid drive, a solid 6-iron pin high and two putts for par.

Number six was a par three over water. Solid three-wood pin high and two putts.

On number seven, my 3-wood off the tee was a little left, but I was still only 120 yards out. Unfortunately, I mis-hit my 9-iron into the lake and ended up with double bogey.

Number eight is a par three over water. Hit my hybrid pin high but right, though I was able to make a nice up-and-down for par.

On the ninth, I pulled my drive left and had a terrible lie above a bunker. It was a pretty severe uphill lie and the ball was sitting down, and I had a sketchy stance. Fortunately, I got solid contact with a 3-wood and advanced the ball to 110 out. (That was probably my best shot of the round.) Hit a 9-iron pin high and two-putted for par, closing out the front nine with a 41.

Started the back nine with a solid drive and a good 3-wood. From 70 yards out, I hit a solid half-wedge to four-and-a-half feet. Unfortunately, I couldn't convert the birdie putt and settled for par.

On 11, I made par, thanks to a good pitch and a one-putt.

Bogeyed the par-three 12th. I was on the green in regulation, but made a very weak first putt and it took me two more to get down.

On the next hole I let my drive drift right, but got lucky with a 7-iron and was on the green in regulation, about 12 feet away. Made the putt for birdie!

Parred 14. Bogeyed 15. Par on 16. Par on 17.

At this point, I was pretty sure I was on my way to a new low round. I didn't know that if I even made bogey I would break 80! My drive was a bit of a flare, but I was still in the fairway, about 170 yards from the green. By this time, darkness was falling, and I was worried about the fading light. That's no excuse, however, for the shots that followed. I'm not sure if I pulled the shot, or if my alignment was off, but the ball flew high and far -- right into the pond left of the green. Dropped and left my wedge a touch short, leaving the ball on the fringe of the green. A chip and two putts meant a triple bogey seven. Still, my back nine score was a 40, for a total of 81, besting my previous low of 82.

Granted, I played the round from the white tees, so the course played only 6023 yards, but I'm still quite pleased. Breaking 80 is next!

Two Movie Recommendations

Hit one of my favorite theaters last night, the Camelot in Palm Springs and caught two new movies, both well worth seeing.

The first, "For the Bible Tells Me So," is a documentary looking at the effects of religion on the lives of a variety of families with a gay child. The Rev. Gene Robinson, the new Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire (whose consecration caused an uproar that is still resonating), and his parents are profiled, as are Chrissy Gephardt and her family, but the other families are not ordinarily in the public eye. Though each story has its own unique elements, the basic narrative is the same in each -- a family of faith is shocked and/or disgusted when one of their children comes out to them (one when he was just 16, most while in their 20s, but Gene Robinson waited until his 50s to break the news), and after a period of challenge, comes to some sense of resolution. Not always acceptance, but at least resolution, except for one tragic instance.

Intercut with these stories are interviews with a variety of clergy, as well as footage from many right-wing types, including Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggert, and a very clear and concise cartoon explanation on the causes of homosexuality.

Though the film definitely has an agenda, it is remarkably even-handed and fair-minded. (As opposed to, say, the films of Michael Moore.) Should be required viewing for every parent.

The second feature was Ang Lee's newest, "Lust, Caution." Set in China during the Japanese occupation of WWII, the movies tells the story of a group of student actors who become resistance activists. Gorgeous photography, wonderful performances, but best of all a very strong, compelling story. Go see. (But be warned, the sex scenes are quite realistic and relatively graphic.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Have you heard any of these stories?

Over the past few weeks, I have heard or read of several stories like these:

No photography.

Honest mistake=six weeks' detention--so far.

Not born in the USA.

Apparently we can't get the rest of the world to hate us enough by what we do over there that we have to treat them like shit when they come HERE.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Find Your Match

Ran across an interesting new online service. asks you first to assign points to the political issues that interest you most, then to rate your support or opposition of certain positions. The site will then show you which presidential candidate's positions most closely match yours. What's cool is that you can then drill down into each position, and Glassbooth gives you backup quotes from the candidate to show what they have said about each position.